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Department of Genetics



Wellcome Sir Henry Dale Fellow

Hansong studied the host-pathogen interaction for her DPhil at the University of Birmingham under the supervision of Prof Robin May. She then joined Prof Patrick O’Farrell’s laboratory as a Human Frontier postdoctoral fellow at the University of California San Francisco to explore mitochondrial DNA transmission in Drosophila.

In 2017 she started her group as Wellcome Sir Henry Dale Fellow at the Gurdon Institute to continue her work in heteroplasmy transmission. In 2018, she obtained an ERC Starting Grant to study mitochondrial DNA recombination. She is a winner of the 2020 Philip Leverhulme Prize and an EMBO young investigator (2021-2024).

Research Interests

We are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that govern mtDNA heteroplasmy transmission during development and ageing. In particular, we want to know why a mutant mitochondrial genome increases in abundance to cause diseases in some cases while in others, it is eliminated. By creating fruit flies carrying both functional and pathogenic mitochondrial genomes, we perform systematic and detailed studies to identify nuclear factors and mtDNA sequence polymorphisms that bias the transmission of one genome over the other to impact the progression and inheritance of mtDNA-linked disorders.

We are also interested in understanding how repair mechanisms maintain mtDNA integrity during development, how maternal inheritance of mtDNA is guaranteed and how complex mito-nuclear interactions modulate the pathogenic expression of mtDNA mutations. These studies provide insights into genome evolution, ageing and human diseases.

Research Group Links

The Ma Lab

Wellcome Trust Sir Henry Dale Fellow
Group Leader, Gurdon Institute
Dr Hansong  Ma
Areas of Interest: 
Genetics of Drosophila mitochondrial DNA, its evolution and diseases
Email address: 
Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research UK Gurdon Institute
Henry Wellcome Building of Cancer and Developmental Biology
Tennis Court Road
Cambridge CB2 1QN
Office phone: 
+44 (0)1223 767226
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